Pep Guardiola supports Jose Mourinho and defends his quality as a manager

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he has never doubted long-time rival Jose Mourinho‘s quality as a manager and insists Manchester United “remain a great team”.

Mourinho’s United have suffered defeats in two of their opening three games this season, losing 3-2 at Brighton and then 3-0 to Tottenham at Old Trafford on Monday.

It is the first time the club have lost two of their first three matches of a Premier League campaign since 1992-93, and the Spurs result was Mourinho’s heaviest home loss in management.

It has left United 13th in the table, six points behind Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Watford, and four points behind defending champions City.

After the Tottenham game, Mourinho concluded a spiky post-match press conference by pointing out he had won the division three times, then demanding “respect, respect, respect” as he walked out.

And on Friday, speaking ahead of United’s match at Burnley on Sunday, the Portuguese described himself as “one of the greatest managers in the world”.

Guardiola, whose side host Newcastle on Saturday, said of Mourinho: “The history, and the way Jose did in all the places he was – it’s hats off.

“There’s no doubts about his quality. I never have in the past, and never now.”

Guardiola added: “Our position is results. But every manager, what he believes, what he likes, tries to get results in his own style.

“We are judged for the results we get.

“Only the players know exactly how you are as a manager because they know you and see you every day. They have more information than the rest of the world – the fans, the media, everybody.

“And normally, even (by) the players, we are judged – if they play, the manager is good, if they don’t play, the manager is not good.”

When Guardiola was asked if he was surprised about the amount of pressure Mourinho had come under so early in the season, he said: “(It’s) our job unfortunately.

“It’s happened to me in the past. All the managers – our job depends on results. When we win we are good, when we don’t win we are not good, it is simple like that.

“The important (thing) is to know the quality and always I believe when you get (to) that level in the Premier League, all the managers are here because they are top, top managers.”

Guardiola was also asked if he was surprised about United’s position in the table, and said: “(They) remain a great team, a top team.

“We’re just in August. It’s just August, so a lot of points to play (for), and after the international break starts the real season.”

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has no shortage of respect for Mourinho, who, as well as triumphing in the Premier League three times with Chelsea, has also won the top flight in Spain, Italy and Portugal, and the Champions League twice.

Dyche said: “My respect for people like Jose is because I am a young manager, learning the game, and these people have done enormous amounts in the game, for the game.

“People forget that. In this job you get questioned for what is happening now – people soon forget your history and what you’ve done.

“He’s done massive things for the game – for him, for the clubs, and for the game.

“I have respect for all those people, and all managers. But I think you’ve got to have a bit more respect for when they (people like Mourinho) have done the things they have done in the game.”

Dyche added: “I’m certainly not going to question his conduct because he knows what he is doing, I’m pretty sure of that, whatever everyone else thinks.”

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Manchester City 'should win' Champions League in next decade, says Khaldoon Al Mubarak

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Manchester City should win the Champions League within the next 10 years, according to chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

With Saturday marking the 10-year anniversary of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s purchase of the club for £210 million, City’s aspirations over the past decade have grown significantly.

After witnessing City win three Premier League titles in that span, including last season’s triumph, Al Mubarak believes the next step for the club will be a European crown.

“The short answer is, yes we should win it [Champions League] in the next 10 years, and obviously sooner rather than later,” Al Mubarak told ESPN FC. “But it’s hard.

“It took Barcelona almost 50 years to win their first Champions League – it’s a very difficult competition and what makes it even more difficult for English teams is the competition in the Premier League. We have the disadvantage of having to play an incredibly difficult game every weekend. Not all the competition we face in the Champions League has that.

“Every game [in the Premier League] is absolutely difficult, home or away. That’s a fact. It’s real. You can go to any of last season’s bottom three and they are very difficult games. That’s the beauty of this league, but also puts a huge toll – physically and mentally – on those teams competing for the Champions League.”

City have reached the Round of 16 in the Champions League five straight years, including a semi-final exit in 2016 and a quarter-final loss this year.

While they’ve yet to break through in the competition, they’ve fared much better domestically. However, Al Mubarak has a hard time seeing the club reach similar heights as Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in that regard.

“The dominance that United had, of 13 titles in 20 years, is almost impossible to do in the modern game,” he said. “It is too competitive, too difficult, and that’s the beauty of the Premier League.

“Italy is different, with one team dominating, and it is unfortunate for that league. Germany is the same. You have two or three competitors in each league, but a very dominant No1.

“The Spanish league has three teams competing, but in reality two who can win it year in and year out, but the Premier League – just look at the past three champions.

“But the beauty of what we have today, with Guardiola, is what I believe is the beginning of a period that this club is going to go through, of sustained success in quite a beautiful way.

“Last year was wonderful, and we are very excited about this season, and the years ahead with Pep, this organisation and the group of players we have put together.”

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Vincent Kompany defends Manchester City's spending for success

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Vincent Kompany has rejected claims Manchester City have enjoyed an unfair advantage over the last decade thanks to their Abu Dhabi owner or that the club’s extravagant spending has been bad for football.

The 32-year-old Belgian arrived at City in August 2008, a week before Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi royalty and the half-brother of the United Arab Emirates’ president, bought the club from ex-Thailand president Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ten years on, and billions of pounds in investment later, the club Kompany joined has been transformed.

The scale and speed of that transformation, though, has prompted criticism from jealous rivals, increased media scrutiny and attracted the attention of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play investigators, with the latter imposing a €60 million fine on City for breaching spending limits in 2014.

Kompany, however, does not accept the idea City’s trolley dash in the transfer market has damaged the wider game.

Speaking at the state-of-the-art City Football Academy, he said: “Any investment by City recently has been to overtake other clubs’ 20-year advantage.

“The alternative is you go to Germany and you have Bayern Munich who obliterate the league every year because they’ve got 11 million fans. So what’s the alternative?

“What is fair about the status quo? Should City be in the third division (as they were 10 years before Sheikh Mansour’s takeover) and say ‘we’ve got awesome fans but we’re not allowed to have success?'”

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Prior to joining City, Kompany played for Anderlecht and Hamburg, two sides who used to compete for European honours but now find themselves outgunned financially.

Asked if he thought City’s state-backed spending was partly responsible for their decline, Kompany pointed to the 1995 Bosman ruling as the real catalyst for change in European football, as it enabled out-of-contract players to move to other European Union clubs on free transfers.

“Belgians know that story very well because the reason why we couldn’t compete anymore in Europe is we couldn’t retain our best players,” Kompany said.

“Bosman was good for me as a player but Anderlecht used to have Dutch stars and the best Belgian players and would go to the latter stages of European competitions.

“But with free movement everybody went to where the bigger teams were, the ones with the most resources, and that made the power of England bigger.”

Kompany also believes Abu Dhabi’s investment in Manchester City has benefited Manchester the city, as well as the entire north west, which is difficult to argue with when you see how much east Manchester has changed.

But nowhere is that sense of revolution felt more sharply in the City than on the pitch, where the club once dismissed by Sir Alex Ferguson as the “noisy neighbours” now set the tone.

For Kompany, who married his City-supporting Mancunian girlfriend in 2011, a key moment in City’s Manchester takeover came when he led his side to a 1-0 win over United in the FA Cup semi-final in the same year.

“It was the biggest game in City’s history for a long time,” he said.

“You go to Wembley and there are 90,000 fans, all from Manchester, well, some from London, but most from Manchester, and they were a big, successful United team, they were the favourites.

“And then you win it and it hits you. We didn’t win any trophies that day but which game gives you more belief than any other? Probably that one and the QPR game (to clinch the Premier League title in 2012). Everything else has been part of the process.”

As the reference to fans from London suggests, Kompany has been in Manchester long enough to know how to needle United supporters, but he is not without sympathy for their current difficulties.

“I have compassion for the neighbours because Sir Alex Ferguson was such a big personality, you cannot take somebody like that out of a club and think everything is going to continue like before,” he said.

“You need a transition period. Manchester United is still a big club, it competes for everything, but it’s still dealing with the post-Ferguson era – it’s as simple as that.”

United also have something City lack. Kompany and co may have won seven domestic trophies since Abu Dhabi started fuelling them but the 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup remains the club’s only European title.

The space in the trophy cabinet is what former Barcelona and Bayern boss Pep Guardiola was hired to fill two years ago, and winning the Champions League is the goal that is driving Kompany on.

“It’s simple to explain: the one thing you haven’t had, is the thing you want the most,” Kompany admitted.

“The Premier League is still a massive prize to achieve, so they are equal priorities, but your mind says what you haven’t achieved yet is what you want the most.”

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